Marcos Knight is anything but a big city guy, having grown up in a town in rural Georgia with a population in the hundreds. And the humble, appreciative upbringing he learned there has helped him become anything but a normal 7DAYS EuroCup rookie.
Knight made his debut in the competition just a few days after his 31st birthday and tallied 9 points and 3 rebounds in AS Monaco’s Group C victory over MoraBanc Andorra.
"From the time when I was a little kid, I always believed in myself and this just speaks for how hard I work on my craft during the season and the off-season," said Knight, who joined the club after a strong season in Germany with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.
It has been a slow and steady rise, going from Germany’s third division to the Spanish first division, back to Germany and now Monaco. Knight was one of the leaders of a Ludwigsburg team which was second in the standings in Germany last season when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The league put the season on hold instead of canceling the remainder of it and ended up playing a season-ending tournament in a bubble in Munich. Ludwigsburg did not have star guard Khadeen Carrington return for the event and Knight was one of the main players who shouldered the load for Ludwigsburg.
He averaged 18.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals in the tournament and stepped up his game in the playoffs, collecting four straight double-doubles in averaging 21.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals in helping Ludwigsburg reach the two-game finals against ALBA Berlin. Knight ended up missing the series against ALBA with an ankle injury, but he garnered the MVP honor of the tournament for carrying Ludwigsburg to its first final in club history.
"I played with injury the entire semifinals. My teammates understood where I was coming from. If I could have played I would have been out there for sure," Knight said.
Knight was able to perform at that level thanks to staying in shape during the pandemic. A big part of that was his brother Trantell, who is his personal trainer and his former college teammate.
Family and home are integral to Knight’s existence, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering from where he comes. His hometown of Rentz is located in the middle of fertile land in central Georgia with only 295 residents. Knight is the oldest of three brothers and he grew up on 40 acres of family property, helping his grandmother with gardening, chasing the chickens in the front yard, playing sports with his brothers as well as driving four-wheelers and go-karts. That made him country strong and kept him humble, he says.
"A lot of guys talk about how strong I am, but that's just how I grew up. Me and my brothers were brought up in the country. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Living on that ranch made me who I am today. And it taught me how to survive and be mentally tough," he said.
Knight returns to central Georgia during his summers. Not only does he come back to see his family, but he also does his part in giving back to the community. In 2019, he held his sixth annual basketball camp for 4-to-18-year-old kids.
"It’s everything to me because I remember when I was a smaller kid, my uncle ran a basketball camp every summer and I looked forward to it. It's great seeing their faces and smiling," said Knight, who calls his camp "One hoop one dream" and welcomed 200 youngsters in 2019. COVID-19 kept him from having a full camp last summer, but Knight still made sure he gave back something with a drive-by food giveaway and also handing out T-shirts and headbands.
Besides family, another thing that has accompanied Knight during his basketball career has been winning. In college, he helped Middle Tennessee State to a Sun Belt Conference title in 2013. In his European debut, he carried Baunach to promotion from the German third division ProB to the second league in 2014. Two seasons later, Knight led Science City Jena to the 2016 ProA second division crown and promotion to the German League. Knight moved from Jena to the Spanish League with Zaragoza at the end of the 2016-17 campaign, when he played six games and got a taste of higher-level basketball.
"I learned a lot playing against great players. It was short, but I learned the value of team basketball. I was taught that at an early age, but I really saw that in Spain. A lot of NBA players come over and play in that league and play off the ball with the correct spacing," Knight said of his brief time in Spain.
More success came in 2018 as he was crowned MVP in carrying Ayfon to the title in the Turkish second division and promotion to Turkey’s top flight.
"It is great when you win a championship - humbling for sure,” he said.
Knight is hungry to use that experience in his role with Monaco in his first time in the EuroCup.
"Winning is everything I am about. I can do everything on the court, but at the end of the day, my role is to help the team win in any way possible," Knight added.
Marcos Knight doesn't sound like a normal EuroCup rookie. Because he isn’t.